The Mindful Life is a social enterprise that was created in 2009 to offer people an effective experience of mindfulness practice.  Each year we run a number of retreats which attract a diverse group of people who share a desire to develop a more mindful life.  

The enterprise is nourished by a philosophy we affectionately call "The Buddha Meets Robin Hood", which is built on a foundation of compassion, connectedness and generosity.  Participants who benefit from our retreats provide donations, most usually of money to a social fund but also of other resources such as time, which enables people from other walks of life to receive the same benefits.

Our research started in 2009 with a pilot project that offered eight participants an intensive three-month introduction into mindfulness. Claire Genkai designed and lead this project, using her experience both as an executive coach and a Zen Buddhist teacher.  In 2010 Sally Bogle and Nick Mabey joined the enterprise and the three designed and ran a series of mindfulness retreats based on their own experiences of their practice.  In those days they used 'theother980' as the name for the enterprise, signifying that if there are 1000 waking minutes a day and if  20 minutes are spent in meditation then a more mindful life is on offer for the other 980 (minutes).  In 2012 the three became seven when Sian Bryant, Penny Cooke, Katie Hyde and Karen Marsh became active participants in the enterprise, having previously attended several retreats and developed their own practice.

We are a group of willing volunteers who share a passion for mindfulness practice and a desire to help others.  We all have our own meditation practice and a range of experiences to share.  When we teach it is with complete acceptance that we are still very much learners ourself. 

Our mindfulness retreats are individually designed to meet the needs of those who come.  We believe that practice is a deeply personal thing, and that people need to find their own way to sustainability.  Each year we plan a series of retreat experiences based on our understanding of the hopes and needs of the people we meet.  In this way our retreats, like our practice, continue to live, learn and grow. 

You can expect our retreats to be nourishing, relaxing, challenging and fun.  We offer a unique combination of insight, depth, hilarity and potential.  

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We are now taking bookings for our next full weekend mindfulness retreat in Dorset, which will take place 26th - 28th September.  The venue is Bonhays Retreat centre ( 1 mile from the beautiful Jurassic coast between Bridport and Lyme Regis.  The weekends start at 6pm on Friday and we finish with lunch at 2pm on Sunday.  The cost of the retreat is £225, which includes accommodation, all food, use of the facilities including an indoor heated pool.   Please contact me via our contact page ( if you are interested in coming along.

One of our intentions for this site is to share some of the guided meditations we recorded a while ago.  Here is a simple mediation with a separate introduction that you are welcome to download and use.

Mindfulness of Breathing

Hi, I’m Sally - I am one of the founder members of The Mindful Life project and will be facilitating on the next retreat in September.  

I have just had a very simple and heart-felt piece of feedback about mindfulness from a coaching client.  I would like to share it as it struck me as an example of the sometimes unexpected impacts of a mindfulness practice.

I taught this client some simple mindfulness exercises to help him with chronic debilitating nerves when making presentations.  The exercises helped him and he went on to develop a regular meditation practice  because he 'just got curious’.  Yesterday he told me, ‘its pretty straightforward for me - there are a whole host of things that this practice may have helped me with, but it has definitely done something for me which is invaluable.  It has helped me sleep!  Having considered myself an incurable insomniac for the past 20 years.  I can’t begin to tell you what that means for me and the number of things (and people) that impacts’.

I have just noticed as I write this, its making me smile again.  I hope to see you at one of our retreats before too long.


What excites me most about this project is how accessible we are making mindfulness practices to people. Since 2009 we have been concentrating on taking ancient meditation practices and combining them with the particular challenges of modern life and modern organisations. We regularly have people come to our retreats who have tried some mindfulness before or who have done a six to eight week introductory course. The biggest myth we have to bust is that it is about 'not thinking'. Believing that means you are likely to feel you have failed. Anyone can learn these approaches and can benefit from them. In 2011 when we were writing the Challenger Spirit, we realised that mindfulness approaches actually helped challenger leaders with their inner work, self awareness and philosophy for leading. it is still the case that achieving that level of internal spaciousness creates a positive ground from which to lead. 

The next phase of our work in this area involves what we are currently calling second wave mindfulness. what we really mean by this is turning mindfulness practices designed for stress reduction into leadership practices that can be used in the moment, in the action and in service of what you are trying to cause. this type of mindfulness does not require you to be sitting in a quiet room, or in a comfortable position. In fact it is about you being able to embody a mindful leadership approach right in the heat of the action when the conditions are actually working against you. In challenger terms this is the place where the inner work and the outer work come together in an instant. 

Hello! I am Sian, one of the newer members of the group as Nick described above. I too will be facilitating at the retreat in September with Sally.

I have been developing my own Mindfulness practice since attending an event with "theother980" in January 2011. I am excited by our work and I am keen to share my personal experience of Mindfulness in a way that can help others.  The practice and our community has benefitted and sustained me greatly and it is a joy to put something back.

I am interested in how we can bring Mindfulness into our lives and beyond our meditation cushions! Last week I was holidaying in Cornwall with my family - husband, 2 daughters and my Father.  I was finding it a challenge to stick to my normal practice of meditating first thing, in the quiet of the morning but I noticed the absolute joy of taking mindful walks. My younger daughter and I walked from Rock to Polzeath one evening. We both delighted in the quality of the air, the pink of the sky, the sounds from the sea and each others company.  

I hope I will see you here or at a retreat soon!  


We run a Monday meditation group in Winchester at The Broadway, High Street, Winchester. SO23 9BE

The remaining dates before the summer are 12th & 19th May; 2nd, 9th,16th June, 23rd June, 30th June.  Each week we meet at 6.30pm for an hour.  We charge £5 per session to cover costs on a pay as you go basis.

So please feel free to come along and introduce yourself to Karen, Hannah or me.

Retreat Dates for 2015

We are in the process of planning all our Mindful Life activity for 2015.  We have firmed up the following dates and will be adding locations in the near future.

02-Feb, 11-May, 16-Oct  

24/25/26 April, 06/07/08 Nov, 11/12/13 Dec 

27/28/01 Feb/March, 19/20/21 June,  18/19/20 Sept

Please block out your diaries if you are interested in any of these.  More information to follow

I was sent the following, written by Kirsty Coltart, the fastest woman in the half marathon I ran at the weekend.  Kirsty does not have a traditional 'sitting practice' but finds mindfulness in her running.

Notice your jaw, notice your shoulders, notice your forehead. Having noticed one of these areas you probably relaxed it. I didn’t tell you to relax it but the simple act of noticing it meant you released the tension.

When I run races, I constantly scan my body for any tightness knowing that by keeping tightness the body fails to flow naturally and therefore cannot produce my fastest running. I know that all I have to do is notice each area starting with my forehead down to my toes and I will maintain a relaxed form. What I learnt during a half marathon last Sunday, however, was that I can go even deeper with this.

The one area that I have always struggled with is my stomach. I often carry a sick feeling that is generally due to exertion especially up hills. During this race not only did I notice it but I then continued to delve deeper and ask myself questions about it: is it a stabbing pain? Does the sensation swell and dip or grip tightly? Is it a moving uneasiness or a constant? I never labelled it as sickness I just tried to describe it to myself. I then rated it out of 10 and continued to do so and realised that as I went through this process what started at 9 soon became 3 or 4 simply because I had fully given my attention to it. It started to dissipate. I was totally in the moment with it. The sole aim of mindfulness.  So whereas in the past I would observe its presence and largely ignore it, in this race I was fully mindful of it and gave it some time. The results were dramatic.

Fitness coaching is my background but this experience (and the fact I still had 7 miles to run!) led me to wonder whether if the success of any organisation/company/working party could be illustrated by a flowing running body then what could employers/employees gain from being fully mindful of areas of tightness or discomfort around them? I imagine this to be mainly communication issues between groups or individuals. If the people involved could question and delve deeper into what was being displayed rather than just accept it and live with it, would it have a positive effect overall? Not to point fingers or lay blame but to fully notice what was going on with themselves as much as anything in the existence of disquiet between people, would it eventually bring a harmony or at least a working calm?

I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you all and keep you updated on the progress of our mindfulness community.
What has been happening
We began in 2009 and last weekend we ran our fourth winter/december retreat. 2014 has been a year of real momentum-building in the Mindful Life social enterprise.  We continue to operate what I loosely call "the Buddha meets  Robin Hood", which effectively means that we intentionally move resources towards people who do not have as much as they need to cope happily with their lives. Some of this is financial, some of this is in supporting their mindfulness practice and some is in one to one work that helps them to come to terms with life's challenges and to feel less isolated. In addition we have been responding this year to very specific requests to help groups around the country and so the mindful life has gone mobile! We have a sitting group in Winchester, a new community in suffolk and plans to fit out a van that will enable us to take retreats to communities who cannot travel.  2015 looks like it is going to be an even more interesting year. None of this is possible without all the people who attend our retreats and help out in so many practical ways.  
If you want to stay connected
We are working on a website as a shop window to people who do not know us yet. However we wanted something private for anyone who has attended a  retreat or is part of our enterprise. With that in mind we have an intention to create a google+ community area where anyone who is on our database can read about our news and, if they want, join in the conversation. It will contain an up to date schedule of all the planned retreats and themes, pictures and emerging ideas. To help us with updating the database toward this end, please take a moment now to send an email to Laurie ( confirming your full name, post code and preferred email address. This will help us to ensure that nobody is unintentionally left off the list. (your post code helps us to work out where we can schedule future retreats to ease your travelling)
I am sure that most of you are more confident with technology than I am, but please be assured that Laurie will help you get onto google+ easily. frankly if I can do it then anyone can!
whatever you are doing this season i hope it delights you and makes you happy. My two palms are together bowing in your direction. 
Wishing you a peaceful end of year and a happy and healthy 2015
Claire Genkai


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